Spent a very pleasant hour talking with friend Bill H. in Yankton on Friday morning. As we spoke he was fishing below the dam, from shore, and was pretty free to talk since the walleyes weren’t interfering with his bait in the slightest. We spent some of the time reminiscing (it’s what senior citizens excel in) about past fishing trips to Canada, especially to a certain lake in Ontario. This lake has hands down the best name for a northern body of water – Loonhaunt!
For me that name conjures up images of cold deep water, rocky shorelines, and the exotic calls of that splendid bird. I can never hear those calls without being instantly transported to places that are special in my memory – Canada, the Boundary Waters, etc. And if some of those places were haunted, it was the loon’s voice that provided the perfect soundtrack. (You can refresh your memory over there in the Jukebox.)
During our several trips to Loonhaunt, we were billeted by the outfitters in different cabins, of varying vintages and states of repair. There are distinctive memories associated with the outhouses that came with the cabins. Some were places one did not linger, being dens of spiders, and if you were ever going to worry about spider bites, these unprotected moments were the perfect times for your paranoia to flower.
One privy stands out, being packaged with the most modern cabin of the lot. It had a large window, so that one could look out at the lake and beyond. There was one hitch in that there was no covering on the window, so that passersby could easily look inside to check on your well-being. It was generally conceded that the views looking out at the lake were the only ones worth talking about.
John Cleese and the rest of the Monty Python crew have a special place in my iconography that goes back quite a long while. But Cleese isn’t done with us, and shows up on talk shows with some regularity. Here is one of my favorites, which to me is a perfect example of his brand of off-the-wall humor.
Our daily temperatures … (hold on, am I jinxing myself?) … may be relenting just a bit. Looking ahead for the next week, there is nothing predicted in the 90s. That ten degrees is the difference between being comfortable and something that needs to be dealt with. Evenings, however, remain cool and wonderful.
Last night Dakota cooked supper for us. Some of the best chicken tacos ever. He’s a careful chef, mindful of so many niceties that I didn’t even know existed when I was his age. But then, I was never the brightest light on the tree as a young man. Signs of the paragon of wisdom that you see today were nowhere to be found in 1969. Earnest – yes. Thoughtful – at times. Wise – fageddaboudit.
But we need not dwell on such matters. What counts is that last evening’s supper was delicious. So flavorful that I didn’t even want to brush my teeth afterward. (I eventually did, don’t worry, I am a stickler for oral hygiene)
I find that I am eager for the observations of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 to be over. That tragedy and the two sorry decades of warfare and mayhem that followed … there were so many ugly things that wash up into memory. I remember that it was a time when our government seriously debated whether to embark on a campaign of widespread torture of other human beings. The horror that those discussions provoked in me is something that I have never gotten over.
Torture. America. Unbelievable.
And only now, twenty years later, have we finally pulled our armies from that sorely troubled area of the world. We are getting to watch religious fanaticism at work, and that is never pretty. Way too often I find myself equating all of Islam with what the extremists are doing, which is completely unfair, I know. Because fanatics are to be found within all of the present-day religions. It is one of the very good reasons our colonial forefathers chose not to set up a theocracy for us to live in.
Could Taliban-like figures arise in Christianity? My friends, they already have, and one of their better-known programs was called the Grand Inquisition. How about gentle Buddhism, you ask? We have only to look as far as Myanmar to see nominal Buddhists assisting vigorously in the slaughter of others. What all of these show us is that allowing any large group of humans to amass too much power can invite very bad behavior.
From The New Yorker